Causes of crime Summary

Social control theory of crime is another example of social process theory of crime. This theory links crime causality in the society on people’s socialization and low self control. (Samaha J, 2005). This theory argues that a person’s relationship with others like parents, teachers, religious leaders or the police influences the bonds that they are to have with the society and thus reduces their chances of engaging in crime. Crime according to this theory can be reduced if effective child rearing and social bonding was to be embraced.

Walter Reckless was one of the earliest social control theorists. He was also popular for his containment theory where he argued that an inner containment prevented some people from committing crime even when this was the order of the day in their neighborhoods. (McLaughlin E and Muncie J, 2005) Biological theories of crime attribute the causes of crime in society to individual’s physical components or make up. The notion here is that there are some or certain physical traits that are portrayed by criminal but which are absent in non criminals.

In other words there are some physical traits that favor crime. Genetic make up or composition is perceived to be a significant factor in determining if one is to be engaged in crime or not. Biological causes of crime could be due to vitamin deficiency, heredity factors, allergy, tumors, brain disorders or dysfunction as well as hormonal imbalances. Hormones are thought to have a significant role in determining or influencing people’s behavior. (Coser L).

Proponents of biological theories include Cesare Lombroso who brought about the doctrine of criminal activism in the 19th century. To Lombroso, ‘there were certain hereditary as well as constitutional characteristics that prevented a criminal from advancing as far along the evolutionary scale as a normal person would be able to do. ’ (Schlesinger, 2003). To Lombroso, the skulls and the brains of criminals were similar to those of the early primates and prehistoric man.

The notion or ideology here was that criminals were born not made and if one was born as such he or she had no choice but to remain as such. Another person with a similar ideology was Franz Gall, a physician and anatomist who ‘believed that there was a relationship between a person’s mental attributes and the shape and size of their head. ’ He further pointed out that some p[arts of the brain were responsible for differing emotions as well as behavior. (Anderson G, 2006).

Social structural theorists associate an individual’s criminal behavior to social class as well as the structural conditions like poverty, unemployment as well as poor education. These theorists suggest that higher crime rates are registered among the low income earners where imperfections were linked to the social structure. According to Joel Samaha, Emile Durkheim’s anomie theory is an example of a social structural theory. This theory suggested that the breakdown of social norms in the society could explain the causes of crime.

The social disorganization theory which has its roots from Thomas W and Florian Znaniecki is an example of the social structural theories used to explain crime in the society. The notion here is that there is a link between the crime rates in society and the ecological factors or the surrounding. Crime rates tend to be higher where there are loose societal norms or values especially where there is constant changing of neighborhoods. Constant migration jeopardizes the effectiveness of social institutions to instill values and norms valued in the society. (Samaha J, 2005).